Internet Explorer 10 – A software development Rocky story
Episode 1 - The Rise and Fall
Just like any good drama out there, the story begins with our hero rising through the ranks and enjoying huge success. Unfortunately, just like it always happens in these instant success stories, fame has its way of going to one’s head which means taking everything for granted and not putting in enough effort to remain at the top.
The competition is always on the lookout for such opportunities and sure enough, when they were given the chance, the first and second contender for the internet browsing crown didn’t take too long to seize the moment. But enough rambling, let’s see the cold hard facts.
The first version of Internet Explorer was released in 1995 as an add-on package for Windows 95. The second version was released only several months later and it included cross-platform compatibility for Windows 3.1 and Macintosh. For the $20 retail price you would also get a month’s worth of internet access and a 30 page “How to” guide.
At the end of the millennium, the only thing standing between Microsoft and total supremacy over Internet browsing was Netscape Navigator. Even though Internet Explorer had only one rival, the competition was fierce nonetheless.
It was only when the software development team over at Netscape made some bad coding decisions and failed to keep up with new technologies that IE got its chance to steal the number one spot. This happened right at the end of the decade and it was mostly because Netscape had become increasingly buggy and crash-prone. It was also slower and for example it needed to completely re-download each page to render it at a smaller scale.
Sensing weakness Microsoft also used its leverage from Windows licenses to push ISPs and PC retailers into distributing their packages and products with preinstalled versions of Internet Explorer. This proved to be the coup de grace for Netscape Navigator.
After winning the “Browser Wars” against Netscape and stepping into the new millennium as the number one solution for surfing the web, Internet Explorer enjoyed six years of undisputed supremacy.
Ironically, it was these six years of total domination that eventually led to its downfall. As the Internet was growing in popularity so was IE and with each day, more and more PC users were getting their own internet connection. It wasn’t long until hackers understood that this was an excellent opportunity for information and identity theft and eventually even monetary theft.
Because Internet Explorer was the most used application all over the world, it quickly became the number one target for cyber attacks. Hackers were constantly trying to figure out its weaknesses and companies turned to software development freelancers for the creation of toolbars. Aside from containing spyware, these toolbars made Internet Explorer slower and more frustrating to use. Of course, to avoid this people just needed to remove them or not install them in the first place but this proved to be a difficult task for novice PC users that eventually blamed everything on Internet Explorer.
During this time, Mozilla Firefox was the only serious contender for the top spot and ironically, it originated from the Gecko layout engine which was the open source code-base released by Netscape after their defeat in the “Browser Wars”.
Providing better speed and increased security Mozilla Firefox eventually surpassed Internet Explorer’s user-count at the end of 2008. After that it all went downhill as by 2010, the third contestant in this race, Google Chrome, also surpassed Internet Explorer. However, it seems like our old friend is trying to make a serious comeback with the release of Windows 8. Its 10th version will bring many improvements that will surely provide a better user-experience and if you want to learn about them make sure you tune in for “Episode 2 – Eye of the Browser”